My Reaction to the Second Presidential Debate

Political Wire

Sometime over the last week — probably after the release of the video showing him bragging about sexual assault — Donald Trump realized he wasn’t going to win this election.

He’s now moved on to Plan B.

Trump’s pivot — starting with his “apology” video late Friday night — was to go full Breitbart. He’s now speaking only to the audience for a speculated media venture. Its not a mistake that his top advisers are former Fox News chief Roger Ailes and Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon.

From the pre-debate spectacle with women who accused Bill Clinton of various sex crimes to saying he would put Hillary Clinton in jail after he wins, it’s obvious that Trump no longer cares to be a mainstream Republican. He treated this like a debate at the Conservative Political Action Conference, not a general election campaign for president of the United States.

This debate should be seen as Trump’s official divorce from the Republican party.

Trump has put every Republican in a downballot race in a really tough position. They can un-endorse their party’s nominee and incur the wrath of his supporters or they can back him and lose swing voters. Trump even dismissed his own running mate’s comments on Russia. At this point, it’s hard to see the Republican party offer any help to his campaign.

As for the debate, Trump was completely unprepared. His body language was terrible. He showed he doesn’t even know how a bill becomes a law. He admitted he hasn’t paid federal income taxes for years — and that won’t the headline from tonight.

Considering that backdrop, Clinton did a decent job. She was very smart to stick to audience questions and try to understand their concerns. Rather than needle Trump as she did in the first debate, she mostly tried to ignore him.

Clinton wasn’t perfect. Her answer on her emails was extremely weak. She left many of Trump’s attacks unanswered. But there’s only one candidate seriously running for president at this point. She won the debate hands down. It’s hard to imagine Trump won over even a single voter tonight.

Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper were also excellent moderators. If you ever need a moderator for a dumpster fire, they’re the ones to choose.

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